Tweet My Grape: Wine and Social Media

| June 3, 2011 | 11 Comments
  • 11 Comments

social media and wine
Wine glass photo by Dave Dugdale

Tweet and Taste
Recently, Twitter co-hosted a nationwide wine tasting tweet-up. The event blended the virtual and the actual as people chimed in from Twitter headquarters in San Francisco and across the country from wine stores in cities such as Chicago and in Washington DC. Other Twitterers, like me, followed along, online, salivating at the tasting descriptions, “the Sauvignon Blanc tastes like liquified summer” said one Twitter visitor. Tweet-ups like this one, which was also hosted by Hanh Family Wineries, are frequent online events. They are the perfect use of social media: one part mixer, one part marketing.

tweet from Twitter wine tweetup bin36hq

Not a New Relationship
The synergy between wine and technology predates the web. Wine billboards, like the CompuServe Wine Forum which started over twenty years ago, served as a way for wine enthusiasts to come together and enjoy their favorite juice. The site is still around in the form of the Wine Lovers Page. In this age of the omnipotent wine critic, more and more people are talking directly to each other about their likes and dislikes and that has been a game changer. Some of the most popular blogs and websites include: Vinography, Dr. Vino, Jamie Goode’s blog, Fermentation, Snooth, OpenWineConsortium (a Ning website where you can connect with tons of different people in the industry, bloggers and wineries) and last on this list but not least in my book, Women and Wine, both the popular blog and Facebook site. Really, the list goes on and on and on. Got a favorite wine site? Tells us!

Vaynernation
The Internet has its own sommelier in Gary Vaynerchuk. A Russian Immigrant who helped grow his family’s New Jersey wine business, Vaynerchuk has used social media to create a multi-million dollar brand. In 2006 he plunged head first into online video, via YouTube, with a series of very passionate daily wine tastings and reviews. That same year he founded Wine Library TV, joined blogs and forums and began to take advantage of the social web. Ala Tony Robbins, Vaynerchuk has written two books about following your passion (in his case wine and the N.Y. Jets) and appeared on several TV shows such as Oprah, Ellen and The Big Idea. But it’s Vaynerchuk’s daily appearances on the internet, and regular interaction with his fans, via Facebook, Twitter and his blog, that have gained him fame and helped his family’s retail website become such a success. I am loving his new smart phone app. “Daily Grape,” is a shorter more nimble version of Wine Library TV.

The Social Winery
Hoping to cash in on the new wine market, several wineries have turned to social media sites to up their sales. St Supery, Wente, Barefoot Wine and Bubbly are among the few out in front. Rick Bakas, head of Bakas Media and past Director of Social Media Marketing at St. Supery Vineyards and Winery, has said that social media can help with sales and wine club retention. Quoting his website, “You have to put faith in knowing your trust will create a tighter bond with consumers, which in turn will lead to sales.” And don’t think wineries are building Facebook and Twitter accounts only for their millennial consumers, the over forty crowd also uses social media and has more spending power. This realization has prompted Bill Leigon, President of Hahn Family Wines in the Santa Lucia Highlands, to re-focus his marketing efforts more on boomers and the parents of boomers, according to February’s Vineyard and Winery Management. If a winery can’t afford to hire it’s own social media director it can go outside. This year, Dry Creek Winery hired Healdsburg-based Social Candy to design and help manage their Facebook fan page. The company creates, video, graphics, and special “Fan Only” Promotions through a Facebook-friendly template system. Murphy-Goode is having some of the most fun with social media. The winery held a ‘wine country lifestyle correspondent’ contest and launched the blogging career of the very clever and goofy Hardy Wallace.

What’s Next?
If Facebook, blogs and Twitter are the social web tools for today, what’s around the corner? Wine apps is the short answer. The longer answer includes sites with more immersive experiences such as games and animation, interactive store labels and smart corks.

Next post — a look at the best wine apps.

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Category: food trends and technology, wine

About the Author ()

Andrea describes herself as madly in love with wine, the growing, making and drinking of it and actively pursues all three activities. She is a Senior Editor and host with KQED's science and environment multimedia series, QUEST. She has covered a number of wine-related stories during her career including: how some children of Mexican vineyard laborers are now vintners, the impact of climate change on Napa wineries and the dizzying array of eco-wine choices. When she is not working, Andrea often finds herself cycling through vineyards not just in California but along the Croatian coast and Germany's Rhine River, high in Portugal's Douro Valley and through the wine lands of South Africa's Western cape. Of course, one eventually has to get off their bike and experience the regional tastes in this case, dry eastern reds, cool crisp Rieslings, aged Tawny Port and lush, acidic Chenin Blancs. Anyone thirsty?
  • http://www.radian6.com Zoe Geddes-Soltess

    Hi Andrea,

    Thanks for providing such a great overview of how social media is being embraced by the wine community. I would also add QR codes to your list, which are starting to grow in popularity with wineries. A couple examples that come to mind are R. Stuart & Company and J Vineyards.

    As for wine apps, I recently came across coverage of a new app that allows users to scan bar codes on wine to instantly access information such as tasting notes, scores, and food pairings. I have yet to test it out (it is currently only available for iPhones), but it is definitely an intriguing concept!

    Here is the link to the press release, if you wanted to get more info: http://ca.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idCATRE74F1J820110516

    Thanks again for the post!

    Zoe Geddes-Soltess
    Community Engagement, Radian6
    @zodot

  • http://www.blogyourwine.com Kris Chislett

    The wine industry is definitely making inroads into social media, but there’s still a long way to go. It amazes me how many wineries think that they can throw money at having a custom designed Facebook Page, post a self promoting ad every other day, and all the rest will follow.
    I personally don’t put a huge amount of value into custom designed Facebook tabs. It’s what’s happening on your wall that will increase engagement, and keep your customers coming back for more!

  • Andrea

    Thanks, Zoe and Kris for ur comments. I think, indeed, the smart wineries r learning that u have to manage the FB page consistently and interact with users to b effective.

    QR codes… Was going to look at their popularity/effectiveness in the next post with smart phones. Tnx for the tip on J Vineyards. It is too bad that the app makers have not moved other platforms along as quickly as the iPhone…

  • unthevert

    FYI, it’s Gary Vaynerchuck, not Vanderchuck.

  • http://www.radian6.com Zoe Geddes-Soltess

    Thanks for the reply, Andrea! I have a blackberry, so unfortunately I am missing out on a lot of great apps because they are only available for iPhone or android. Hopefully, this will change soon! Looking forward to seeing your post on QR codes :)

  • http://www.blogyourwine.com Kris Chislett

    You need to get on that Android Zoe! :) Love my Evo!
    I posted a article on QR Codes in the wine industry a while back: http://www.blogyourwine.com/2010/12/14/qr-codes-in-the-wine-industry-helping-the-buying-experience/

  • Andrea

    Thanks for the correction on Gary Vee’s last name…it is, indeed, Vaynerchuk.

  • http://www.radian6.com Zoe Geddes-Soltess

    Just call him Gary Vee and avoid all confusion :)

    Thanks for the link, Kris. I will check it out asap!

  • http://www.drumsara.com Edward (Drumsara Wines)

    QR Codes are a great way to add interactivity with customers. We started using them in Jul 2010 and have had great feedback from customers. Currently our set up is reasonably basic with a site that appears on your phone with tasting notes, a map of the vineyard on where the grapes are from and some other general information about us.

    More here: http://business.scoop.co.nz/2010/07/30/drumsara-wines-adopts-cutting-edge-technology/

  • http://bakasmedia.com Rick Bakas

    Hi Andrea,

    Quick note on your article. You mentioned me in your article as working at St. Supéry. For you readers, I wanted to let you know I left that winery last October to start Bakas Media. Those quotes you listed are quotes from an interview over a year ago.

    Also, on May 26th there was a worldwide virtual wine tasting called #Chardonnay day. The reach and impressions of that event surpassed Wine Spectator.

    Just thought your readers would like to know.

    Cheers,
    Rick

  • Andrea

    Thanks Rick for the correction. We definitely noted it in the post. Also, appreciate the info re. #Chardonnay day.